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05 August 2014

First Lady Sandra Deal Teams Up With Comcast To Offer Free Internet Access to Atlanta Students

Atlanta's low-income families who lack Internet access at home received some welcome news when they returned to school Monday.

Comcast announced a plan to provide up to six months of complimentary service for any new family that has not yet applied for Internet Essentials. Families who are approved for Internet Essentials between 4 August and 20 September 2014 will receive up to six months of Internet service.

Launched in 2011, Internet Essentials is the nation's largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program, providing low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month plus tax, the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150, and free digital literacy training. Since its start, Internet Essentials has connected 350,000 families, or about 1.4 million low-income Americans, to the power of the Internet. It is available in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

Nearly 100,000 Georgians – or 25,000 families in the state – have benefitted from the Internet Essentials program, an important achievement as broadband access becomes an increasingly vital educational resource for students of all ages. Atlanta boasts the second highest number of Internet Essentials sign-ups across all Comcast markets.

At a press conference, Monday afternoon, Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal joined Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen, and Dr. Steven Lee, Atlanta Board of Education Member for District 5 at Peyton Forest Elementary School to announce the promotion, the donation of free laptop computers to all 147 of the school's 4th and 5th grade students, and to draw attention to a digital divide that has left many Georgia families without access at a time when the Internet has become vital to learning.

"I know first-hand how critical it is that we prepare our children inside and outside the classroom to succeed in learning and in life," said Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal. "As a teacher, I didn't just teach to one child. I taught to every student in the class, and that is also the goal of Internet Essentials: to ensure every child can build digital literacy skills that benefit them in the classroom and in life."

"It is clear that we have a great deal of work ahead of us if we are to bridge the digital divide in Georgia," said APS Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen. "In Atlanta alone, we simply have too many families without Internet access, which encumbers students' ability to keep up with their daily school work. On behalf of Atlanta Public Schools, we are thrilled to join Comcast in its goal of connecting 5,000 families to the Internet this year."

"Internet Essentials is about transforming lives and inspiring a new generation of leaders to be digitally ready to access the information and tools all students need to succeed in the 21st century," said Cohen. "By offering up to six months of free Internet Essentials service, along with an amnesty program, we hope to convince even more families that there is no better school supply than having broadband Internet at home. With it, kids can do their homework and parents can be more connected to their children's teachers and schools."